Experiencing Grief After Kidney Failure

Welcome! We strive to help people transform their journeys and elevate their spirits in style with our dialysis shirts. We design dialysis clothing for everyday use, so you don’t have to change clothes for treatment.  

Hillary and I (Jennifer) are Dialysis Nurses living in Oregon. We have spent much time listening to dialysis patients tell us what their needs are and what they find the most difficult to deal with when on dialysis. Our priority is producing our line of dialysis shirts and dialysis clothing, but we realized we have so much more to share. On our community page you will find interesting articles and resources that include tips and facts that can help you to take ownership of your chronic disease process. Benefits of becoming more knowledgeable about your condition include having an easier time talking with your dialysis team (nephrologist, social worker, dietician, patient care technician, and nurses), improving your overall health, and feeling more in control of your life.

Experiencing Grief After Your Diagnosis

You have received the diagnosis – END STAGE KIDNEY DISEASE.

You may have been discussing this possibility with your doctor for some time. It may come as a complete surprise. Either way it can feel devastating and will, without question, be life-changing.

It is completely understandable to feel grief after being diagnosed with kidney failure. Grief is a natural response to loss, and in this case, it may be the loss of your health, lifestyle, or plans for the future. Grief is a natural and complex process that can affect people in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it is important to remember that everyone experiences grief differently. However, there are some common signs and symptoms that may indicate that someone is grieving:

  1. Emotional reactions: The person may experience a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, numbness, and confusion.
  2. Physical reactions: The person may experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and physical pain.
  3. Behavioral changes: The person may withdraw from social activities, have difficulty concentrating, experience a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, or have difficulty making decisions.
  4. Spiritual reactions: The person may question their beliefs, struggle with the meaning of life, or experience a crisis of faith.
  5. Cognitive reactions: The person may have trouble remembering things, experience difficulty focusing, or have persistent negative thoughts.

Grief can be looked at like the many rough edges of a jagged stone. Initially these rough edges are very sharp and can feel really bad. As time goes on and you adjust, the stone becomes smoother, and you aren’t affected quite so much. No one can say how long this takes, everyone is different. When your stone becomes smooth, you can begin to feel less anxiety, stress, fear, frustration, anger, and regret. You may feel more peaceful, happier, empathetic, and grateful. Energy may slowly return. You are beginning to heal from this devastating loss.

There are things you can do to help yourself cope with your feelings of grief:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings: Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions. It is okay to feel sad, angry, or scared.
  2. Seek support: Talk to your loved ones, friends, clinic social worker, or a therapist about how you are feeling. You may also find it helpful to join a support group for people with kidney failure.
  3. Educate yourself: Learn as much as you can about your condition and the treatments available. This can help you feel more in control of your situation.
  4. Take care of yourself: Prioritize self-care, including eating a dialysis-friendly diet, getting enough rest, and engaging in physical activity as recommended by your healthcare team.
  5. Set realistic goals: Adjust your expectations and focus on achievable goals. This can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and control.

Remember, it is normal to grieve and it is okay to ask for help. With time and support, you can learn to manage your emotions and adjust to your new situation. Ask the staff at your dialysis clinic to help you find resources. Remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. The clinic social worker will know of support groups in your area. There may even be one that meets at your clinic. 

If you are located near us in Portland, Oregon, we have many support groups throughout the metro area at all of our major health systems: Legacy, Providence, Kaiser, and OHSU/Portland Adventist. All Hospice organizations offer grief support and counseling for both caregivers and patients. Some even have a Social Hour where different grief topics are discussed each week either on Zoom or in person. One such center that does this in our area is Mount Hood Hospice located in Sandy, Oregon. For more information on support groups for grief feel free to contact Laura Lirette M. Ed, LCSW at: llirette@mthoodhospice.org.

Look for more interesting blogs coming your way. We encourage you to share any comments or questions that you have. We will be more than happy to answer, and it may also give us ideas for future blogs. Let us know what’s on your mind. 

Our focus is all about elevating your SPIRIT, and transforming your JOURNEY in STYLE. Check out our dialysis shirts and other dialysis treatment essentials available in our shop. Scroll to the bottom of the page to join our email list to be notified about our future posts and learn more ways to improve your life on dialysis!

-Jennifer and Hillary

Back to blog

1 comment

Thank you for mentioning our groups in your post. I really enjoyed how you connected diagnosis with grief experiences. I noticed my email was misspelled. It’s my missing a letter in my last name. The correct email is llirette@mthoodhospice.org

Laura Lirette

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.